The Rise Of Sustainability In 3D Printing

By on April 6th, 2020 in Ideas

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More attention to sustainability is coming [Image by  Gerd Altmann ]

More attention to sustainability is coming [Image by Gerd Altmann]

There’s a new trend washing over the 3D print industry these days: sustainability. 

Up to now many companies simply operated without regard — or with little regard — for the effects their products had on the environment and people using the equipment. That seems to be changing in a big way, with more and more sustainability-oriented initiatives.

Two companies are moving in this direction in a very visible manner. One is Dassault Systèmes, who hired a Chief Sustainability Officer. They explain: 

“Dassault Systèmes announced the hiring of Chief Sustainability Officer Alice Steenland. Steenland will lead the company’s efforts to further embed social and environmental sustainability into its 3DEXPERIENCE platform, a digital solution that enables companies to transform customer experiences to align with their sustainability goals.”

A “CSO” is a very high-level position in the company and thus would have the power to make change happen. This position indicates that Dassault Systèmes is quite serious about this matter, and is making a move far more deeply than others who only peripherally account for sustainability. 

It’s also interesting that Dassault Systèmes, a software company, would do this, as they do not (normally) produce any hardware, which is often the source of unsustainable activity and materials. 

Meanwhile, one hardware company in the 3D print space that’s doing a similar strategy is Vancouver-based 3DQue, a producer of 3D printing array products for low-volume manufacturing. They hired a Sustainability Research Intern with a BSc in Environmental Science. Again, we have a company putting resources forward to sustainability. 

BigRep has also made moves in this direction, although seemingly without a specific executive role responsible for sustainability. They have produced new materials that minimize CO2 and are recyclable. 

And of course, there are several companies marketing recycled 3D print material, such as Czechia-based RE PET, who recycle PET materials, hence their company name. 

But many other companies do not yet have official sustainability roles in their organization, or even have sustainable products in their product portfolio. 

I believe attitude toward sustainability is slowly going to change as we move forward. More 3D print companies will hire sustainability experts to take positions with loud voices and provide course corrections as necessary for a sustainable future. 

What is your company doing about sustainability? 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!